Days of Wine and ...
Today's active-adult communities appeal to aging boomers with spas, hiking trailseven vineyards
Trilogy isn't the only company trying to lure boomers with resort-style amenities and revved-up, place-specific lifestyles. Webb himself might not recognize the communities that carry his name today. Residents at Anthem Ranch in Broomfield, Colo., get to pick from housing styles whose names reflect famous ski towns, like Aspen and Steamboat. They organize ski trips to area slopes, take cross-country-ski clinics, and go on daylong hikes. Scott Hysler, a former Naval Academy athletic coach who is the development's "lifestyle director," has organized a flying club this spring and even tried introducing residents to sky diving last year (he got one jumper).
At the community he previously worked at in Falls Run, Va., homeowners were "less outdoorsy and more focused on culture" but no less active. Hysler organized visits to Civil War sites, scored private tours of Mount Vernon, and invited speakers from the Smithsonian to complement trips to museums in Washington, D.C.
Gradually, boomers are responding. Tom and Angie Drzewiecki moved from California to Seattle a year ago, to be near their son and his wife. They looked at several housing options, initially thinking they would buy a condominium near the city. But then they visited Trilogy at Redmond Ridge in Redmond, Wash., and immediately liked everything about it.
"It was one gorgeous community. It had the golf course, lots of activities, and the style of the homes really reflected the Pacific Northwest," says Tom, 63, a retired human-resources executive. Angie, 60, a semiretired career counselor, recalls lunching at the clubhouse and being struck by residents' "great sense of energy and involvement and enthusiasm."
On the move. The Drzewieckis now live in a house that looks out on trees and mountains and often take two-hour walks through forests that abut the development. She's taking yoga classes and line dancing, and he's playing golf a few times a week with different foursomes. And they make a point of driving 30 minutes into Seattle at least a few times a month, to eat out, go to Mariners games, or take houseguests to Pike Place Market. "We weren't looking for this at all, but we have a lifestyle here," says Tom Drzewiecki. "I don't feel retired at all because of the environment."
Of course, no amount of swimming and day-tripping is going to keep old age completely at bay. "Five people in our little division have died in the 2½ years we've been here, and we know several people who have had surgeries and illnesses," says Shirley Swanson, 59, who also lives at Redmond Ridge. "It's something that's reasonable to expect, but it hadn't occurred to us before we moved here that this would be part of our lives." Yet Swanson sees it as another aspect of what makes these communities close-knit. "We tend to be more caring of our neighbors because these things happen." It raises the question of how these now vibrant developments will evolve as the boomers grow older and less active.
"We originally thought these would be the last homes they buy, but now we think they'll move on at some point," says O'Brien. But it seems unlikely that people would spend 10 or 20 years building a social network of their peers only to break off from them at a stage when making new friends will be less easy.
Darcy Stewart, the developer behind the large SunRiver community in St. George, Utah, is hedging his bets by setting aside land adjacent to the development for an assisted-living center. "The idea of aging in place is alive and well. Many people here are thinking about that next phase, and we are supporting that," he says.
The Christiansens, who have met some of their future neighbors at pizza parties and breakfasts organized by Trilogy, already feel attached to them. "If I'm left alone or my husband is, I can't think of a better place to beit's safe and there's a social community already in place," says Maureen.
In the meantime, there's a bocce court free, and the wine is chilling.